Title: Remix #394
Author: Saydria Wolfe
Series: The BAST Chronicles
Series Order: 1
Genre: Fix-It, Time Travel
Relationships: Tony Stark/Bucky Barnes, Howard Stark/Maria Stark
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Canon-level Violence, Canon-level Science, Discussion – Torture, Discussion – Rape
Word Count: 52,966
Summary: After being murdered in a Siberian bunker by the Defective Soldiers that he had trained, Bucky Barnes had a choice. His choice could end the world, or save it.
Interlude: Meeting Bucky Barnes
The scene opened to a small, mousey-looking man wearing a tweed jacket and clutching a file folder like a shield as he stood in front of a textured blue background.
“Hello,” the man started. “My name is Dr. Charles Braunwyn. I am a psychologist and psychiatrist, as well as a medical doctor. I have practiced psychiatric medicine for forty-five years. Currently, I still run a small practice while I teach psychology full time at Princeton University.
“My brother in law, President Michael Ellison, requested that I personally evaluate Sergeant Bucky Barnes for a Presidential Pardon. To do such, I have thoroughly reviewed the file recovered by US Intelligence Agents from Hydra not long after the man himself was found,” the man held forward the folder in his hands for emphasis before he tucked it back under his arm. “I have also interviewed the man extensively.
“I do not treat this man, and he is not my patient, though I have offered my services should he ever require them. Instead, he asked that I prepare you who are about to interview him and the audience at home for his reality.”
Dr. Braunwyn cleared his throat and shifted a bit. “Out of respect for his privacy, I will not be going into specifics. But I will tell you what I told my brother in law. This man has no need of a pardon. A pardon implies that he could in some way be held responsible for the actions his captors forced him to take and that is simply not true.
“He did not meet the legal requirement for compos mentis at any time while he was in Hydra’s malevolent care.
“Sergeant Barnes endured torture unlike anything I have ever seen or heard of. Sensory deprivation, isolation, extreme exposure to heat and cold. They beat him. They raped him. They experimented upon him, permanently altered his body against his will, and drugged him with all manner of chemical cocktail. His captors invented new methods of torture, just for him.
“This—physically, very young—man withstood conditions that would have broken any other person in days. Things that would have left you or I a gibbering mess on the floor, and he endured them for years.
“He withstood their conditioning until they invented a method to remove his memory, his sense of self and his experiences, all while maintaining his skills. Even then there were memories they could not take from him, so Hydra perverted those memories and twisted them to their advantage to the point where if Captain Rogers were somehow recovered alive from his watery tomb tomorrow, I would advise strongly against their reintroduction. Sergeant Barnes’ sense of self is simply too fragile.
“I would not currently qualify him as incompetent, his physical brain is recovering frighteningly fast.” Braunwyn frowned. “Perhaps faster than he can emotionally deal with but he is dealing with it. The re-introduction to his family has grounded him in his recovering sense of self and the carefully controlled introduction of new people and experiences has grounded him in this—to him—new time.
“I would not qualify him as a danger to the public. He is no more or less dangerous than any combat veteran with his skills.
“That said, Interviewer,” the little doctor straightened and glared fiercely at the camera. “If he says he does not remember something, you will cease your line of questioning immediately and move on. If he refuses to answer a question, you will respect his boundary and move on. If he calls a member of his family to him, you will include them in the interview and you will not shame him for his decision to seek the support he needs. If he asks for a break, you will grant it immediately.
“If you fail to comply with any of these rules, I and his personal doctor, who will also be present during your interview, will see you in jail. I could not be any more serious on this matter.”
The screen cut to black momentarily then brightened to the face of a smiling young blonde woman in a smart skirt suit.
“Hello. My name is Christine Everhart. I’m a twenty-one-year-old senior at Brown University majoring in Journalism,” she said as she walked through what was clearly a production stage full of wires and lighting gear. She stepped into a tastefully decorated set and sat down delicately in a squishy brown leather armchair. “I am here today to interview Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes on his recovery and return to life after forty-six years as a prisoner of war.” She turned and smiled to someone just off camera. “Thank you for joining me, Sergeant Barnes.”
The camera panned to include a man under thirty wearing slacks and a dark blue dress shirt. The left sleeve of the dress shirt had been removed completely to reveal a shining metal arm that went all the way to his shoulder.
Sergeant Barnes smiled warmly. “Please, call me Bucky, Ms. Everhart.”
“Only if you call me Christine.” Bucky gave her a tight nod and she continued. “So, I honestly have to know, you could have given this interview to literally anyone and made their entire career. Why did you pick me?”
“Well, I didn’t really. Tony did.”
“Tony Stark, son of Howard and Maria Stark,” she clarified.
“That’s right. He said we needed someone without an agenda. Someone that wouldn’t play games with me, but was dedicated to the truth. Apparently, he read a buncha your student articles and was impressed. He has a big binder of them.”
“Well, I’ve been writing for my school newspaper since I was ten.”
Barnes gave her a small smile. “I don’t think he went back quite that far, but he’s really thorough, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it did, either.”
She smiled but there was something reserved about it. “And your choice has nothing to do with the fact that I’m Jewish?”
“You’re Jewish?” Bucky blinked. “I mean, that’s nice but it wasn’t a factor in the decision. I didn’t even know ‘til you told me. I don’t see how it really matters, though. Isn’t that what religious freedom is about? Worshiping who you want and it not affecting anything outside of your own personal choices?”
“You’re right. That’s exactly what it’s about, I apologize. I mostly brought it up because my grandfather was a German Jew. He survived and moved to this country, at least in part due to your actions, and he would be furious with me if I didn’t thank you personally.”
“Oh,” Bucky shifted, obviously uncomfortable. “Uh. That’s… good?”
She suppressed a smile and shook her head. “Why don’t you tell us what’s happened to you since you fell off the train?”
“Uh, I don’t remember most of it. I mean, I remember more every day, but… mostly, I get flashes. I know I was drug in from the cold by Soviets. Like, physically drug through the snow. I was already missing a large chunk of my left arm at that point but I still don’t know why. If I lost it from the fall or from whatever they did to get me out of where they found me? I don’t know how many years it took for me to be found, either, or if that happened right away.
“I know they took parts of my arm. I remember them cutting it to here and here,” he gestured to just below his elbow and then halfway between his elbow and shoulder. “Don’t know how much of my own arm is still in there.
“I remember waking up on a table with a metal arm that worked just like my flesh one but was cold. Permanently cold. I remember Dr. Zola leaning over me. A lot like he did in the Austrian Hydra facility Stevie saved me from, but there was so much light. Like an overhead? I couldn’t see anything but Zola.
“I’m pretty sure this is my second arm,” he continued, looking down at it now. “I have a— a sense memory of a cord or a tube or something coming from here,” he pinched the pinky side of his left wrist. “But I’m not sure where it connected, either further up my arm or on my shoulder.
“I think it exploded? But I don’t really know.
“Every once in a while, I get flashes of shooting people. Some from the war, some not, but I don’t know why I’m shooting them.
“Then I remember Howard, looking up at me from the seat of a car. That was the sixteenth.”
“Of December,” she clarified. “Two weeks ago.”
“Yeah,” he swallowed and nodded.
“That’s a lot of empty time,” she said softly.
“Yeah. They kept me in cryo a lot. Cryogenic Stasis, I mean. It stops everything, you know? They didn’t want my brain to heal what they were doing to it. But I guess they miscalculated. The two weeks they had me stalk the Starks was enough, I guess.”
“You guess? And you don’t remember. You don’t seem to trust your mind.”
“No, how can I? I know it’s been broken. I know I’ve been broken and programmed and—” For a moment he hunched forward, he looked somehow small and vulnerable. “On a good day, I wake up knowing my own name. I was up to three in a row so far but the clock reset again this morning. I woke up and I could feel the harness and the muzzle they kept me in. The weight of the weapons I never got to choose. That was it. I was just wearing sweatpants.”
The woman swiped at one eye. “How do you deal with that?”
“I, uh, I made an anchor. Something they wouldn’t have given me, couldn’t have given me. Gave myself a mission. I’ll fulfill that mission for the rest of my life.”
“And if you die for your mission?” she asked softly.
Bucky smiled at her, small but sincere. “Then I’ll know it was necessary. And I’ll know it was my choice.”
“What is your mission? Or your anchor?” she pressed but Bucky just shook his head. “Alright. I can see how you’d want to keep that private.” She tapped her cards in her other hand. “I feel we’ve danced around this question, so I’m going to ask it straight on. What, exactly, have you been doing since you fell? You’ve implied a lot of things. Shooting people and not being in control but, how?”
“You ever heard of the Winter Soldier?”
“The Winter Soldier was an assassin. A Hydra Assassin. Responsible for at least eighteen assassinations. Several famous ones, including Kennedy Assassination. Some not so famous ones. Hydra used me—used the skills I earned in the War—in an attempt to shape the world to their liking.”
“You’re saying you were the Winter Soldier,” Christine raised both eyebrows at him.
“I was. It wasn’t my choice but I’ve seen their files, with pictures of me, in cryo and out. My body did those things. It wasn’t my choice and I didn’t want to but I’m not always convinced that matters when we’re talking murder.”
“Of course, it matters,” she took a deep breath. “How did being the Winter Soldier lead you to Howard Stark?”
“Someone betrayed him. Someone he trusted sold his secrets to the wrong people, and Hydra decided he needed to die for them. Hydra sent me to do it. I don’t know if it was because I was the best they had or just Hydra-typical sadism, using me to murder someone I knew when I was still a person. But, yeah, that happened. My conditioning broke and I didn’t go through with it, obviously, since Howard’s standing right there,” he pointed offscreen.
“Does this have anything to do with Stark Industries Chief Operations Officer Obadiah Stane’s rumored to be under arrest for Industrial Espionage and Treason?”
Bucky gave her his best Mona Lisa smile. “I’m sure I can’t say.”
“Sounds more like a yes than a no to me but, moving on. I see your sisters are here, with Howard.”
“Yeah, Gina heard Tony and Howard talking about it and insisted she be here. And of course, Doro and Liz wouldn’t let her leave them behind.”
“That’s family for you. The stories I could tell you about my aunties, whew!” They both laughed. “How does it feel, having family again?”
“I…I never expected to make it home from the War, to be honest. Being drafted—at the time—was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I felt like my future was being taken away. And I knew I was never going to get it back.” He paused, obviously thinking. “Seeing them. And their kids. And their grandkids, was a gift I never expected.” And then, softly. “I’m not sure I deserve it.”
“The history books imply that both you and Captain Rogers were eager for the war,” Christine offered neutrally. “That you wanted to get out and fight the good fight as soon as possible.”
Bucky looked at her like she was stupid. “That’s why I didn’t join the Army until almost five years after war was declared?” His face might as well have been subtitled bitch, please it said the words so clearly. “Stevie was eager to get out there but he never met a fight he didn’t jump into feet first.
“I hate fighting. I always have. If I’d had an option that wouldn’ta destroyed my father, I’da taken it. As it is, I had to lie about getting drafted so Stevie wouldn’t look at me like I killed his puppy.”
“You were a boxer, though,” she countered. “A welterweight champion boxer at that.”
“I learned to fight so I could defend Stevie against his bullies. I stuck with it because I was good at it and could use it to earn money to help my parents. Doesn’t mean I liked it.”
Christine opened her mouth, closed it while shaking her head and asked, “Are you still in the Army?”
“Technically, I’m on what you call Terminal Leave, which is leave that ends with the termination of your service. I’m gonna be discharged on TV next week. Pretty sure President Ellison’s already signed my Honorable Discharge, though.”
“Do you hold any records in the Army? Longest standing Sergeant?” she asked with a grin.
Bucky laughed. “You know there’s like five or six rates that can be called Sergeant, right? Depending on what time period you’re talking about. I was a Buck Sergeant when I shipped out to England and a Sergeant First Class when I fell off the train. I went up like three rates during the war.
“Bet I hold the record for longest living POW though,” he said with a smirk and she laughed only to immediately stop and look horrified. He waved her off. “You were supposed to laugh, I’m not mad.”
“What about the changes? A lot of things have changed since you were captured. Your sister Dorothee Roth is a United States Senator, the first Jewish woman to sit in Congress. How do you feel about women in the government?”
He laughed. “I’m more surprised they still allow men in the government. We’re the ones that keep messin’ things up, killing people, starting wars.
“But, to answer your question, my sister is an amazing person, if she decides to run for President, that don’t bother me a bit. She’s got my vote. If they let me vote, pretty sure I’m registered.”
“So, you’re a feminist?”
“What’s that?” he frowned and tilted his head. “I don’t know that term.”
“A person the believes men and women are equal.”
“So, what, like a person with common sense? Why does that need a name?”
Christine sat back, looking surprised but not upset. “So, what are your opinions on women’s rights?”
“Can I get an example?”
“If your partner ain’t treatin’ you right, go.”
“I ain’t got the right parts to get one. Don’t see how my opinion matters.”
“A lot of people in power think abortion should be illegal.”
“A lot of men,” he corrected. “Sounds like another reason women should be in the government, if you ask me.
“Because, I have news for you, women got abortions in the 30s and 40s. They were doing it before that, too. All legalizing it did was make it safe, helped women survive what’s already a traumatic experience. This debate isn’t about the lives of children. It’s about the lives of women being more important than other people’s morals. If you tell me your religion—or whatever your excuse is—is more important than people’s lives, we ain’t got nothing to talk about.”
“That’s,” Christine paused, then she grinned, “hot.”
And Bucky laughed.
“How do you feel about mutants? That’s a new hot button issue right now.”
“You think mutants are new?” he asked her with an incredulous eyebrow. “I’m starting to worry they ain’t teaching you kids history no more.
“Do you have any idea how many mutants fought on our side during the War? If a mutant in this country wants to vote or get married or own property or adopt, they have every right to it. I’m not saying that because they earned it—though, they have—but because they’re sentient human beings.
“And besides, why are we gonna do Hydra’s work for them? They want us hateful and afraid. They want us divided so they can take us down all that much easier. They want to rule the world and if it’s a world full of corpses, that’s just fine with them. We need to be smart and stand together so they don’t stand a chance.”
“You think Hydra is fueling human-mutant tensions in the United States?”
“They done it before. Where do you think Germany got it from? The name calling, the hate, the isolation. Registering human beings, monitoring them, sending them to camps. Killing them. It’s just history repeating itself.”
Christine’s eyes went wide. “The Republican Party introduced another bill to register mutants on Capitol Hill last week.”
“Mutants and Enhanced,” he corrected. “As currently written, it would include me and Stevie. I dare somebody to try and put numbers on my forearm. I fought those Nazi bastards once, I’ll do it again. And it’ll take more than a train to get me down this time.
“Not that I’m okay with it if they drop the enhanced part,” he pointed out. “I don’t want you to think that. I’ll still punch those Nazi bastards in the face even if they give me an exception. Maybe especially.”
“So, what’s the solution?” she pressed.
“Equal rights for everyone—and I mean everyone. This little Jewish boy right here, the black trans man working catering, the Latin mutant on the corner. All of us. And education. Different ain’t nothing to fear. If you’re afraid of it, then you know you got something to learn.”
“I’m afraid of sharks, that doesn’t mean I need to learn about them,” she countered.
“Doesn’t it? You can learn the most common types that attack and where you can go to avoid them. We aren’t their natural food so if they’re attacking, something’s wrong. You can learn the causes of attacks and how to prevent them all together, make everyone safer.”
“Okay,” she pointed at him. “That sounds really smart.”
“Just because I never finished college, don’t mean I’m stupid.” He frowned then and looked off camera. “I didn’t finish college, did I?”
“No, Buck,” the voice of Howard Stark drifted forward, sounding painfully amused. “You got drafted.”
“What were you going to school for?” Christine asked, honestly curious.
“Architecture, I think.” He paused, and then he nodded. “Yeah, architecture.”
“Are you going to finish?”
Bucky sank back in his chair and blinked at her. “I could, I guess. It would be a good example. But I doubt my records exist anymore. It’s not like I remember my classes anyway, so really, I’d have to start over. Would it be better for me to take the same thing or do something new?”
“Sounds like something to ask your doctor.”
“Of course,” he quirked a smile at her. “Almost everything these days involves my head doctor.”
“That’s good to have, though, right?”
“It’s different. We didn’t use counselors like that. You talked it out with a buddy or suffered in silence.” He took a deep breath. “Guess that’s something that’s better now.”
“Best thing about the future?” she quickly changed the subject.
“The Starks. Mrs. Stark is lovely and kind, patient and generous. Howie’s brilliant and funny, creative and dedicated. Their son’s the best of them both. I’m not sure what I did to deserve them.”
“Well, you did save their lives,” Christine reminded him. “Worst thing about the future?”
“No flying cars?” There was a laugh from off screen and Bucky shot a grin that direction. “I mean, Howard had a prototype in 1944. If he stuck with it, everyone would have one by now.
“Maybe that’s something you can work on from here?” Bucky asked the person off screen.
“I’ll look into it,” Howard promised. There’s the sound of a scramble and then, “Oop, Darcy!”
A pretty little girl in a dark blue dress scampered on to the screen. She was maybe all of five and Bucky jumped out of his chair, went down on one knee, and caught her when she threw herself at him.
“Hey, Little Bit. You tired of Grandma Liz?”
“I wanted and wanted to come to you but she wouldn’t let me, but now I’m here anyway!” she announced, looking as pleased as could be.
“Alright. You can stick with me for a bit. We should be just about done.” He shot Christine a look that dared her to argue with him but the woman was nodding emphatic agreement so he took his seat again, with the little girl on his knee.
“I think my ovaries just exploded,” she confessed in a rush. “Who is this?”
“This is my granddaughter, Darcy Lewis. Say hi to Ms. Christine, Button.”
“It is a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Christine,” she greeted the woman on cue, and Christine all-but cooed.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, too, Miss Darcy.” Then she looked up at Bucky. “I didn’t know you had a child let alone a grandchild.”
“Neither did I,” he agreed. “I kind of hope I knew before? But I can see how it would have made everything harder. Either way, my son was a good man—I’m sure they’ll get you a picture or something later. My sisters told me about him. Smart, kind, a good kid.
“The President let me read his service record. He was in the Army, a fantastic officer. Total badass in the field. He advanced quickly without ever using my name and was trusted at the highest level.
“I’m proud of him.
“And his wife, Lisa, she was brilliant. And pretty, just like my Darcy here.” Looking down at his granddaughter, he asked, “Isn’t that right, Miss Darcy?”
“Yep, yep!” she chirped with a grin.
“So how are you, little one?” Christine asked the girl in that exaggerated tone adults tended to take with children. It made Bucky want to grind his teeth but Darcy just smiled at the woman brightly. “Is it nice getting to know Bucky?”
“Well, I just started living with Aba a week ago but so far, I like all of it,” she grinned.
“You live with Aba now?” Christine sounded shocked. “What’s that like?”
“Well. We start the day really early, working out and being the boss of everyone.
“Then we go to breakfast where if I’m good and ask nicely, Mr. Jarvis will put extra strawberries on my plate, even if it wasn’t part of his plan.
“Then I do science with Uncle Tony in his lab. We were trying to find Uncle Stevie as a surprise for Aba but we need more data so we sent minions out to the cold. Now he’s teaching me, um—” she glanced up at Bucky.
“Programming,” he supplied. “Tony’s teaching you computer programming.
“It’s the Tony-equivalent of teaching her the folk stories of his people,” he added in an aside to Christine.
“Right. That,” Darcy continued with a single no-nonsense nod. “And I make sure DUM-E and U are good and don’t mess things up too much. Its practice for when Aba gets me a puppy,” she asserted, prompting Bucky to roll his eyes expansively behind her.
“Then me and Mr. Phil trick Uncle Tony into leaving the lab for lunch.
“After lunch, either Mr. Phil teaches me history or I paint with Grandma Maria or I do math with Grandpa Howard.
“Then I get a snack. Goldfish are my favorite, but pretzels are good too if I can have peanut butter. And then Aba teaches me a language. I picked French first.
“And sometimes Mr. Duke helps. He’s creole, not really French but he speaks French, too.
“Sometimes instead of language, Grandma Doro comes over to teach me about laws. Or Grandma Gina will work with me on our reading and writing. Grandma Gina has the prettiest handwriting. And I like poetry, but I’m ready to move beyond Dr. Seuss. She’s very committed to it, though, so I don’t complain.
“Then we have dinner as a big family, then Mrs. Ana helps me bathe, and it’s off to bed! Off to bed!”
“That sounds amazing!” Christine grinned. “I think I’m jealous!”
“Yes, it is. I have the best days. And on weekends I still get to go horseback riding with Uncle Patrick or to the ballet with Grandma Liz. Though, sometimes we skip the ballet and hit the cinema instead, but don’t tell Aba, it’s supposed to be a secret.”
Which of course made both adults laugh.
Darcy tugged on his shirt a bit. “Aba, can we get ice cream?”
“Pretty sure I saw some out on the catering table. Why don’t you go with Grandma Maria and pick some out? I’ll be right behind you.”
“Okay!” Carefully, he scooped her up and set her on the floor. She took off running almost before he let go.
“Where are her parents?” Christine asked gently. “You were using past tense when you spoke of them before.”
“Yeah, they died. I’m her next closest relative so legally she’s mine but realistically, she has four grandmothers: my sisters and Maria Stark. Tony loves her beyond all reason, Howard’s wrapped around her little finger, and I’m pretty sure Patrick Sheppard would actually fight me if he didn’t get to see her at least once a week.”
“Sounds like she’s bound to have a great time.”
“That’s the plan,” he nodded. “Keep her home as stable as possible, meet her educational needs, and be sure she always knows she’s wanted.”
“I think you’re going to do just fine,” Christine reassured him.
“Yeah,” Bucky gave her a little smile. “Me, too.”
There was a cut to black, then a clip of a press conference played, President Ellison was gripping the edges of a podium with a line of American flags behind him.
“Sergeant James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes was born in 1917, the oldest of four children. Childhood best friend of Captain Steven Rogers, he was the only one of Captain America’s Howling Commandos to give their life for this country and our world. These are facts we all know.
“It brings me both great pleasure and regret to inform you all that these facts are wrong.
“Through the efforts of various members of the United States Intelligence Community, we have learned that Bucky Barnes did, in fact, survive his fall in 1945. He was captured by Hydra and has been a Prisoner of War for the past forty-six years. He was tortured and experimented upon but he endured.” The President made eye contact with the audience at home. “And now he has returned home.”
There was another thick black cut and the scene faded back to the President pinning something on Bucky Barnes’ chest.
“I imagine you’re getting tired of being my pin cushion,” President Ellison joked.
Bucky accepted another hand shake with a small smile. “You’ll have to try harder if you want to draw my blood, sir.”
President Ellison laughed and held up a light blue ribbon. “Last medal, I promise.
“For outstanding bravery and dauntless spirit at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, it is my honor to present you with the United States Medal of Honor.” He raised the ribbon and slid it around Barnes’ neck.
They shook hands and stepped up to the podium together.
“Finally, Sergeant Barnes, I formally accept your request of an Honorable Discharge from the United States Army. Thank you for your service.”
Music swelled and played over the video as Bucky turned to shake hands with the waiting Generals, each of whom saluted him before offering him their hands.
Minute men, from the start,
Always fighting from the heart,
And the Army keeps rolling along…